Weeks of heat and dust.
Following a star to find a King.
Ending up in Jerusalem, only to find them blissfully unaware of events in their own backyard.
Their songs ascribe the stars in the heavens to their God, and they ignore the one star shining with such ferocity that you can see it even in the daytime.
We could just shake our heads.
I am Melchior of Persia. A scholar and interpreter of the stars, as were my companions Balthazar and Gaspar. Just days after the appearance of the new star we were together, huddled over our starmaps and sacred texts. Reading the significance of this star was absolutely obvious: A king will appear in the land of Judah, and from the brightness of the star it was clear that this was no ordinary king. This was a great king, possibly the greatest ever. There was no mention of anything like this in the annals of our forefathers. This was unique.
All three of us were royalty, but it was clear that this king totally eclipsed us. This was a once-in-a thousand year event, and we knew we had to go. We rounded up our servants and camels, loaded provisions, and hit the road.
We assumed that the great king of the Jews would be born in the capital Jerusalem, but we were so wrong! The Jews knew nothing of this event. Asking around only brought us to the attention of king Herod. We would rather have avoided him, but when he sends his meanest soldiers to escort you to the palace, you go. Unexpectedly, it turned out well for us.
We found the king and his court all abuzz about our search for the king of the Jews. Unlike the commoners on the streets, they seemed to take it seriously. The king called in the Jewish scholars and holy men, and from their scriptures they gave us directions to Bethlehem.
We spent the night in the palace, being treated like the royalty we are. Sleeping in a proper bed, after a proper bath, no dust between my toes, fed until we could eat no more ... Ahh, it was so good. Yet, I couldn't sleep. The excitement was just too much. Tomorrow we would arrive at the end of our journey, but what would we find? Interpreting the star was clear to us: A great king has been born, in the land of the Jews. And we had to go - we studied the stars every night to divine the great moments of our time, and this was the first time in a very long time ... no, actually the first time ever, that the heavens announced the birth of a king with such celestial glory. He had to be a great king. Maybe the greatest ever. But in the land of the Jews? Still, there was no other interpretation.
Early the next morning we loaded the camels and set off to Bethlehem. There was none of the usual aimless talking and joking; but a lot of tension in the air. Apprehension. After these weeks on the road, finally, we are going to meet the Great King. Would our gifts, valuable as they were, be acceptable? Would we be accepted into his presence? And above all, the mystery: How could a great king be born with no fanfare, no royal annunciation, in a sleepy little town in Judaea?
And then we found him, and suddenly everything made sense. The moment I looked into his eyes, I knew. I knew. This was no ordinary king, born into the good life while his subjects suffer and die of hunger. This was no princeling, to be pampered in a palace. He would walk the streets with ordinary people, hearing their cries, seeing their pain. He was born in a stable, he would be raised to labour with his hands.
And I felt ashamed. I looked at my sumptuous robe, and I was ashamed. Ashamed of the gaudy colours, the extravagant fabric, the fortune I paid for it. Ashamed of me. I looked at our gifts, and I felt nauseous. Gold for one who gave himself ... What a joke!
His parents and I talked deep into the night. I didn't understand everything they said, but I understood this one thing: "He will save his people from their sins." I knew about sin. I spent my life fighting the darkness within, searching for light, and never finding. I gathered great wealth, I chased every pleasure on offer, yet the emptiness remained.
But when I looked into his eyes, I saw something different. I saw hope, and peace, and the assurance that - in the words of his mother - God has not forgotten us. I saw a future not based on my past. He smiled at me, and I felt a strange joy, and hope, in my heart.
This baby touched me like nobody ever did. He showed me who I was and what I needed. Imagine what this man would do ....
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